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Ferry service between Long Island City and Manhattan will be revived after Labor Day by the same company that abandoned the route two years ago because it was unprofitable.
New York Waterway will begin operating high-speed ferries Sept. 3 between Hunters Point in Long Island City and two Manhattan locations: Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street, an eight-minute trip, and East 34th Street, a ride of only five minutes.
Arthur Imperatore, the president of NY Waterway, said the service fills a void by offering a direct connection from Queens to Lower Manhattan by water.
The Queens ferry provides a very effective alternative to a downtown train connection, Imperatore said in a phone interview Monday. It allows customers to transfer to high-speed ferries not only from the New York City subway and from Park and Ride, but also from the Long Island Rail Road.
Ridership on private ferries citywide has more than doubled since the Sept. 11 attacks, jumping from 30,000 to as high as 68,000 today, city Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Cocola said. Ferries have proved valuable in shuttling Manhattan commuters across the Hudson and East rivers after the subway and PATH stations beneath the World Trade Center were destroyed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing a short-term subsidy to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that will fund the service in its early stages of operation so the ferry company does not incur any losses.
Essentially in order to help build a market in the short term, there will be an underwriting of the operating costs for the first six to 12 months of the operation, Imperatore said.
In order to break even, the company would have to provide 1,200 one-way trips downtown and about 1,000 to East 34th Street, Imperatore estimated.
NY Waterway eliminated its previous ferry service between its Hunters Point docks and Midtown Manhattan in March 2000 because the company could not lure enough riders.
We lost a substantial amount of money running the service, Imperatore said. It was one of the few routes that weve really never been able to make successful.
But the Lower Manhattan route provided in the new service will likely attract more riders than its predecessor, which only went to Midtown and thus faced stiffer competition from the subways.
The ferry dock is located on the boroughs East River waterfront in a heavily industrial area that is slated to be transformed into a residential and commercial center called Queens West. A second apartment building, Avalon Riverview, opened on the Queens West development site this spring, joining the City Lights co-op completed in 1997.
Were very excited about it, said Tracey Appelbaum, a vice president at Avalon Bay Communities, which built Avalon Riverview. While certainly we have fantastic access via the No. 7 train, I think it just opens up a whole new host of people who may select to live here because of where the ferry service goes.
Ferries on both routes will depart every 15 minutes during morning and evening rush hours and every 30 minutes off-peak until around 10 p.m.
The Long Island City stop for the Long Island Rail Road is within walking distance, and the LIRR will be increasing service to that station, Imperatore said. A shuttle bus will be provided from the Hunters Point station and a 600-vehicle parking lot will accommodate commuters who drive to the docks.
A one-way fare to Lower Manhattan is $5 and a monthly pass is $150, while the Midtown route costs $3 each way or $80 per month.
The service will be free for its first week.
The company is also eyeing additional routes to launch in Queens within the next one to two years, including a ferry to LaGuardia Airport, which NY Waterway once provided exclusively for the Delta Shuttle. Another possible route would run from the Rockaway peninsula to Manhattan, although that would likely require a long-term subsidy.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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